Botox rival in testing scandal

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A recent report has exposed a controversial test being used on animals to gauge
the toxicity of botulinum toxin. Laura McCreddie learns the truth about LD50

Botox rival in testing scandal
           elebrities such as Ricky
           Gervais and Chrissie                                                                                           animal testing: tHe law
           Hynde have spoken out                                                                                          The Home Office licenses testing
           after the British Union for                                                                                    on animals, but only when there
the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV)                                                                                       is no alternative. Tests that cause
uncovered evidence that animals at                                                                                        pain or distress, or where the
Wickham Laboratories in Hamp-                                                                                             animal’s death is the end result,
shire were subjected to extreme                                                                                           are not sanctioned.
cruelty during the testing of the                                                                                            The Animal Procedures
botulinum toxin, and rival to indus-                                                                                      Committee is the non-depart-
try leader Botox, Dysport.                                                                                                mental advisory body that
   The condemnations came after                                                                                           advises the Home Secretary
the BUAV also revealed in Novem-                                                                                          on matters concerning the
ber that around 74,000 mice have                                                                                          Animals (Scientific Procedures)
been subjected to the controversial                                                                                       Act 1986. It is made up of a
LD50 test. LD50 refers to the aver-                                                                                       wide variety of people, from
age lethal dose of a toxic substance                                                                                      those who use animals in
that is required to kill half the mem-                                                                                    experiments to those who
bers of the tested population. The                                                                                        oppose such practices.
result is used as an indicator of the    BUAV is campaigning for the LD50 test to be replaced by the SNAP-25 assay
substance’s acute toxicity (high
doses over a 24-hour period).            stop testing on mice and to use         Ipsen is still using Wickham Labo-      stipulated by the regulatory author-
   The test is controversial because     the SNAP-25 assay instead. This         ratory as a testing facility, it is     ities around the world. While man-
its results vary greatly depending       test measures the effects of the        conducting its own inquiry into         dated to conform to these require-
on factors such as environment,          toxin in a test tube and, according     the allegations of cruelty.             ments, Allergan strives to minimise
mode of administration of the sub-       to the BUAV, is a suitable replace-        Allergan, the company behind         animal testing.”
stance and animal species used. It       ment for the LD50 test.                 Botox, was quick to distance itself        Dr Patrick Treacy, regional repre-
also only measures acute as opposed         A spokeswoman for Ipsen, the         from the investigation. A spokesper-    sentative for Northern and the
to chronic toxicity (lower dosages       manufacturer of Dysport, defended       son for the brand said: “The under-     Republic of Ireland at the British
over a longer period of time) and        its use of the LD50 test, saying: “At   cover investigation was carried out     Association of Cosmetic Doctors,
also does not take into account toxic    the moment it is the only test recog-   at Wickham Laboratories where           spoke of the need for an LD50
effects that do not result in death –    nised by regulatory bodies to ascer-    they were testing the botulinum         replacement. “As someone with fur-
for example, brain damage.               tain the safety of botulinum toxin.     toxin Dysport – not Botox.”             ther qualifications in molecular biol-
   Vivisection has been allowed to       However, research is under way to          However, it also defended its own    ogy, it is apparent that alternative
be carried out on this anti-wrinkle      find a non-animal method.”              use of the LD50 test. The spokes-       assays are urgently needed to replace
injectable because it is licensed by        She also added that although         person added: “LD50 tests are still     vivo bioassay methods for assess-
the MHRA for use in the UK for                                                                                           ment of the safety and potency of
medical purposes, but is also used                                                                                       these botulinum neurotoxin-based
off-label for cosmetic reasons.
   The report was the result of eight
                                         Consumer view                                                                   therapeutic products,” he said.
                                                                                                                            “From my understanding, the
months of undercover investigation                                                                                       SNAP-25 assay has been proved to
by the BUAV. Director of Special         What do you think about botulinum toxin testing?                                be more sensitive than the mouse
Projects Sarah Kite explained why                                                                                        bioassay for detection of toxins in
they decided to infiltrate. She said:                 “This is                  “This                       “I don’t     therapeutic preparations.”
“Despite a UK and EU ban on the                       despica-                  would put                   agree with      A spokesperson for the Animal
use of animals for cosmetic testing,                  ble and                   me off,                     testing      Procedures Committee said that
there is a loophole in the law,                       it would                  and I’m                     animals in   the Home Office would be looking
which allows animals to continue                      be a                      not much                    this way     into the reports of animal neglect
to suffer dreadfully in tests for bot-   reason for me not to      of an animal lover. I      for a cosmetic             at Wickham Laboratories and the
ulinum toxin, a product that,            have the treatment.       wouldn’t have the          procedure that is          use of the LD50 test. He said: “The
although licensed for medical use,       It’s a product aimed      treatment because of       unnecessary. I didn’t      Home Office Minister Meg Hillier
is ending up being used – quite          at people’s vanity        this, and would try to     realise this happened      MP commissioned a review of pro-
legally – for cosmetic purposes.”        rather than to improve    find alternatives not      and it would put me off    cedures and I understand that the
   BUAV is calling on consumers          their health.”            tested on animals.”        having the treatment.”     scope of the review will also cover
to put pressure on the manufactur-       Richard Lyons, script     Sonia Dzivane, sales       Lisa Berwin, senior        the appropriateness of the use of
ers of anti-wrinkle injectables to       writer, Leeds             manager, Edinburgh         reporter, London           LD50 test in this instance.” PB

12 Professional Beauty February 2010                                                                                   

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